Having congratulated GS yesterday on how it responded to Glynn Cardy's motion on the theology of marriage, there still remained to see what would come of Waiapu's two motions re same sex partnerships. In the end one was set aside and the other was also amended. The amended motion had started with the intention of confirming the autonomy of a bishop to ordained whom they chose. The stated explanation for the motion made it clear that this motion if resolved as it stood would lead to the Bishop of Waiapu (at least) ordaining whom he chose. Sanity prevailed, as you can read in Lloyd Ashton's report in Taonga. I suggest that conservatives in ACANZP, in particular, should reflect carefully and prayerfully on this part of the report of the debate:
"And then one of the best-known, best-loved veterans of the Anglican evangelical scene – we won’t be naming him – got to his feet to speak.
This man has always believed, and still does, that the Scriptures teach that marriage is, and can only ever be, the faithful union of a man and woman before God.
And here he was, telling synod that his beloved daughter has come out.
What’s more, she has entered a civil union with her partner.
But there’s a twist. Because here’s the plea that his daughter, and her partner, insisted he make to synod:
“Please Dad”, he shouted to the synod. “Don’t let them do anything that would hurt the church!”
Coming out, he said, had cost his daughter and her partner.
They’d been worship leaders in their local church, and they had voluntarily resigned before they came out, and before their civil union.
If their union was going to hurt that much-loved church – well, they’d rather carry the pain themselves and resign.
But still, they were begging this man to keep his integrity.
“Please don’t change, Dad,” they told him, “unless you’re personally convinced that this is what the Scriptures say.”
Dad still doesn’t agree with his daughter and her partner’s lifestyle.
But there’s no question about the steadfastness of his love for his daughter and her partner.
“I love them passionately ,” he said.
He’d been to his daughter’s civil union ceremony.
He’d spoken there, too – just as the father of the bride usually does at a wedding.
“There is nothing that you can do,” he told her that day, “that will make me love you more.“And nothing you can do that will make me love you less.”"
I simply say, again, re the challenge for conservatives, we must engage, as this brother in Christ is doing, with the pastoral challenge of the situation of same sex couples seeking to live their lives in faithful partnerships. One way to imagine ourselves into this challenge is to constantly ask ourselves what, if anything, would be different about what we say, do, think and pray about these matters if it were our own flesh-and-blood who come to us and say their lives are not 'straight'forward in the way we might wish them to be so.
What, in the end, is our heavenly Father's heart attitude to those who love another person with a love which is as great as the love of a husband for a wife or a wife for a husband?*
The amended motion which was approved, reads thus (and changes nothing about the current situation of our church:
"This General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui affirms the long tradition and practice of Episcopal autonomy, within canonical limits, in the discernment of a person’s call to ordination."
In other news from GS, a motion which Bosco Peters and others in the Diocese of Christchurch worked hard to formulate was passed, undergirding a resolve to be a Trinitarian liturgical church. Taonga report here.
However our normal warmth towards Bishop Kelvin Wright's blogging from GS is chilled slightly by his lack of enthusiasm for proper collects for our church!
Not all bishops in TEC are happy, as this statement of dissent makes clear. Perhaps critics here of my criticism of TEC could take note that TEC's own internal critics make pretty much the same criticism I make.
For something completely different, nothing to do with synodising or conventioning, J. Louis Martyn has something incisive to say about Galatians.
*PS: the question is about 'love', not about 'sex'. Framed in that way, we can scarcely dismiss it with appeals to the Bible's teaching on sex. Please refrain from doing so in comments on this post and, if you wish to comment, comment on the question!
PPS: Maybe I am being too strict with my strictures in the PS above! I find it hard to say what I think I want to say, but I am concerned that we can pastor those who are in dispute with what our doctrine is ... including pastoring those who consciously (and conscientiously) disagree with our doctrine. I think of a partnered gay friend who knows "all the arguments" and is unlikely to be persuaded by anything further I have to say, but would prefer me not to push for that which might lead to expulsion from the church and, vice versa, would not want to push for that which might lead to my expulsion from the church. If I were his vicar, what would my pastoral engagement with him involve (and not involve)? I can quickly state what the doctrine of marriage is (and why it should remain what it is). I find myself less able to state what the pastoral engagement of the pastor is to those who by word or deed or word-and-deed live out a different understanding of the doctrine of marriage. Is the question answered by saying, tout simple, that they must repent?